Ayer's Argumentative Analysis

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At the beginning of the twentieth century, the dominant style of moral philosophy was overthrown by European influences. G.E. Moore, a British philosopher, challenged the idea that goodness was a measurable quality. This critique of American naturalistic ethics was followed by A.J. Ayer, a member of the Vienna Circle, who argued that the philosophy of morals was a “pseudo-concept” that could not be argued for or against. Charles L. Stevenson brought Ayer’s thinking to America where he incorporated the ideas of logical positivism into the discussion of ethics. Stevenson argued that moral statements were not scientific facts but rather were matters of opinion. This shift in thinking completely rocked the essence of what America knew as morality. With this change came the…show more content…
“Metaethics,” a term coined by Ayer in 1949, is the study of what it means to be ethical. This division of philosophy sought to understand the meanings of words such as “good” and “bad.” The rise of metaethics underlined the dichotomy between normative ethics — what should we do? — and metaethics — why should we be moral? Normative ethics used to be the center of attention in the world of philosophy. In the 1950s, though, the focus shifted to metaethics. However, philosophers who were trained under the classics strove to keep a balance between normative ethics and metaethics. Philosophers such as John Rawls, Roderick Firth, and Stephen Toulmin used these two opposing ethical discourses in order to adjust the grounds needed for ethical judgements. Rawls believed that the moral decision was that which was “reasonable and reliable”. Firth took a slightly
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